How do parents of performing & visual arts students make a difference?
As we begin the New Year, it’s a great time to glance back over the past 12 months to see how far your child has come academically as well as in the arts. There’s also no better time to ask yourself what you can do to help your student stay on the right path and take the most effective steps in pursuit of the right college arts program. From the emotional to the practical, there are a number of areas in which you can provide key guidance and support.
1. Confirm a real interest in the arts. Why does your child want to pursue the arts? Is it truly for his or her sake? Or is it to fulfill the expectations of others? If you’re the slightest bit unsure, take your child out to dinner, sit down, and have an honest conversation. No one is saying they have to be 100% certain that their chosen art form is the one and only love of their life, but at the very least, there needs to be a spark and a true interest.
2. Fuel the passion. As parents, we want our children to be fully engaged in and happy with whatever they choose to do. So once you’ve validated that your child has a definite interest in the arts, embrace and encourage the inspiration and motivation. Keep in mind that real success isn’t possible without some degree of passion.
3. Seek the expert perspective. It’s no secret that many parents believe their teenagers are more talented than they really are. If your student really wants to pursue a major in the arts, now is the time to seek objective opinions on their performing or visual arts abilities. In addition to asking for honest advice from teachers and instructors, students can get outside assessments from professionals who may be associated with a local theatre company, symphony, or dance troupe. Visual arts students can receive portfolio evaluations from college representatives at a National Portfolio Day. Different talent levels need to be properly nurtured by the right schools and programs for each individual.
4. Combine creativity with structure. Creative people, including performing and visual artists, are not typically known for organizational and planning skills. So you may want to offer some guidance to help your child plan for and prepare those primary ingredients that will help further his or her goal such as the college application, audition, and portfolio requirements.
5. Find a great fit with good facilities. Your child should seek out a college that fits his or her interests, goals, and personality. Attending a top-rated professional school or arts program doesn’t guarantee success and often sidesteps the issue of whether the program is right for that individual. In addition to evaluating dorm rooms and classrooms with your child, you should check out studio space, practice rooms, audio/visual studios, and other resources specific to the field of study. Be sure to ask about accessibility of these resources to students.
6. Value translatable skills. It’s only natural for parents to want their college-age children to major in something practical like business, particularly in tougher economic times. But those who major in the arts acquire many desirable skills such as the ability to present in front of large groups of people, taking and utilizing constructive criticism, and developing excellent speaking skills. Remember, what’s most important is that students graduate with a degree and truly translatable skills.
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